Episode 202: Bird Meets Smoke

Chipotle-Cherry Barbecue Sauce

Chipotle-Cherry Barbecue Sauce


Chipotle-Cherry Barbecue Sauce


  • 1 pound fresh or frozen cherries
  • 1/2 cup sugar, or as needed, plus more if needed to taste
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup port wine
  • The grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 cup rich duck stock or chicken stock
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons minced canned chipotle chile
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon kirsch or brandy
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Recipe Steps

Step 1: Pit the cherries if they haven’t been pitted already: you’ll need 1 1/2 cups.

Step 2: Start the sauce: Place the sugar and water in a small saucepan. Cover and bring to a boil. Uncover the pan and cook the sugar until darkly caramelized, 5 minutes, swirling the pan. Do not stir. Remove the pan from the heat and add the vinegar: the mixture will sputter and hiss like Mt. Vesuvius. Return the pan to the heat and simmer, whisking, until the caramel dissolves.

Step 3: Add the port wine, lemon zest, and lemon juice and bring to a boil over high heat. Stir in the stock, cinnamon, and chipotle. Reduce the heat and simmer until richly flavored, 5 minutes. Add the cherries and cook until soft but not mushy, 3 minutes for fresh, 1 minute for frozen. Remove and discard the cinnamon stick.

Step 4: Dissolve the cornstarch in the kirsch to make a paste. Whisk this mixture into the sauce and boil for 1 minute. The sauce will thicken slightly. Whisk in the butter and salt and pepper to taste: the sauce should be highly seasoned. If you like a sweeter sauce, add a little more sugar.

Recipe Tips

Serve with Cherry-Smoked Duck.